Tag Archives: Feminism

In My Mother’s Kitchen

Pumpkin pie

“Time to whup the cream!”  Every Thanksgiving my mother would jokingly say this to me and my younger brother when it was time to come to the kitchen and whip the cream for her amazing homemade pumpkin pie. This was done by hand, with a wire whisk, taking turns as our arms tired out. No sugar was added. It was just pure creaminess that we covered her spicy, not-too-sweet pumpkin pie with. Her crust was flaky and she loved walnuts so much that she put them in her pie, with delicious results. She also put walnuts in her dressing (never stuffing; she thought stuffing was disgusting) along with chopped mushrooms and all the bits of liver, gizzards and neck meat from the enriched broth she had simmered  them in, which then went into the mixture. Pepperidge Farm seasoned breadcrumb stuffing mix formed the base, and then she added all her magic touches. The result was my favorite part of the meal. As far as I was concerned, the turkey was an accompaniment to the dressing, not the other way around. The cranberry sauce was another favorite. I remember very early in my childhood eating the jellied canned cranberry sauce that every child of the 1960’s remembers, but at some point in the 70’s she decided that wasn’t good enough, and started to make her own from bags of fresh cranberries, an orange and sugar. She’d boil the cranberries in sugar and water, and then throw that into a blender along with an entire orange. It was so easy, and so delicious. We didn’t have a huge meal at Thanksgiving, unlike so many families. There were only four of us, so we had the turkey, the dressing, green beans (“the Julia Child way,” i.e. just cooked and still a bit crunchy in a big sauté pan with lots of butter, fresh parsley and lemon juice), cranberry sauce, and the pumpkin pie for dessert. No hams, lasagna, sweet potatoes, yams, pecan pie, etc. It was simple and perfect.

Years later I was in my apartment preparing my first Thanksgiving meal. My mother had died almost exactly two years before, and I had decided to make and host the feast for my father, brother, his new wife and my then-boyfriend. I was already considered an excellent cook by then, and was looking forward to cooking and sharing and taking on the role of matriarch in a way. My mother and I had had a complicated relationship. I know she loved me very much, but there was a lot of tension between us for many reasons, and being with her was often very difficult for me. Her death was sudden and also horribly drawn out: she had a cardiac arrest on my 36th birthday, essentially died, and was revived but in a coma for 10 days until we made the unanimous decision to disconnect her. I was numb. We all were. I wasn’t able to cry and mourn the way I thought I should. I felt horrible, but I couldn’t release it and mourn. So, two years later, I remember standing in my little kitchen, my boyfriend having just arrived, feeling very overwhelmed by the task and responsibility. All of a sudden, I missed my mom. I missed her with a grief so sharp it took my breath away. I wanted nothing more than to be able to ask her for advice on how to make her dressing, and I couldn’t. The realization hit me so strongly, the grief so painful, that I suddenly burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. I cried and cried and cried. I cried for my mother. I cried for our lost relationship. I cried for the good times we had had in her kitchen that we would never have again. I cried for all the food she had made in her kitchen that I would never again be able to taste or ask her how to make.  I cried for the pure essence of her.

In the end, I made the dressing. But I didn’t make it exactly like she had, because I didn’t really know how. Instead, I took the idea of it and made it my own. And it was delicious. The whole meal was perfect. I made my own cranberry sauce my own way: I put red wine and cherries in it. It was divine. I made it in my own kitchen. I am pretty sure my mother was there watching me. In my kitchen.

© 2019 Anna Pavlakis All Rights Reserved

Dark Moon


I’m 53 years old. I have been “officially” in my Crone time, my menopause, since August of 2017, a year after my last period. I have come to embrace this time of power and inner understanding, and to love it. I had felt some sadness at saying goodbye to the part of myself that my periods had represented to me: my fertility, my inner juiciness, and an important aspect of my sexuality. I felt that I wouldn’t be as sexual, somehow. That idea left pretty quickly, as I realized it just wasn’t true; I was as sexual as ever, but in a more embodied and empowered way.

Last night was the New, or Dark, Moon. I felt the need all weekend to go inward, to stay home and be solitary, to sleep, to cook delicious food, to meditate, to channel, and to just BE. Later on in the evening, I facilitated a journey with a soul sister also on the Shamanic path, also in her Crone time.

About that word “Crone.”  Among those who are not interested in continuing the patriarchal systems of the planet’s more recent history was Mary Daly (1928- 2010). She spoke admiringly of Crones in  Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism:

 “Crones can well be suspicious of dictionaries which, in listing possible etymologies for crone, suggest that it is ‘derived from a term meaning carrion. The OED discusses this possibility, but also suggests that crone is probably from carogne, meaning ‘a cantankerous or mischievous woman.’ This meaning seems somewhat appropriate. It is noteworthy that Merriam-Webster gives as the etymology of crone the Greek cronos, meaning long-lasting, which in turn is from chronos, meaning time. It would seem eminently logical to think that crone is rooted in the word for ‘long-lasting,’ for this is what Crones are.”

I am Crone. Hear me cackle.

So, imagine my surprise when, after doing a very powerful New Moon meditation and journey, in which we tapped into our magical abilities to manifest whatever we want, hours later I got my period. I just stood there in surprise, not sure what to think or do, much like I felt when I had my first period at age 11.

I did a Sabian Symbol Oracle reading for myself regarding what this means, and burst out laughing at the symbol I got: Aquarius 27: An Ancient Pottery Bowl Filled With Violets. That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Today I went out and bought myself some pads (after recently giving away the last ones I had), and understood why lately I have been losing my patience and craving chocolate cake.

The moral of this story is that we are magical beings who can experience renewal and new growth at any time. There are no limits for us except those we believe in. We are, in truth, limitless beings, capable of so much more than we think. I know this period is a small thing, and that many women experience it after menopause, but to me it’s enough to remind me of my magic.